It seems that some want to rewrite history as of late.The Australian Department of Education has started to change the dating term “b.c.,” originally meaning “before Christ,” to “b.c.e.,” meaning “before common era,” in its materials.
Shadow Education Minister Jillian Skinner told the Sydney Daily Telegraph, “This is a case of history being rewritten and abandonment of the use of a calendar which has been around for centuries on the basis that the term might offend someone.”
In this country, the Supreme Court started hearing arguments on whether Ten Commandments displays can be placed on government property. Note that while doing so, a frieze containing the tablets, along with assorted other philosophical historic figures, was displayed over their heads.
It was James Madison who said, “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.”
Whether we like it or not, the term b.c. and the Ten Commandments have been around for a long time and aren’t going anywhere.
But some have seen fit to remove these two religious symbols from anything to do with government because they don’t want to offend anyone.
Such steps to rewrite history conjure up memories of the actions taken by the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984. The government in Orwell’s writing rewrote and made up its own history in order to keep control over the people and deny them freedom.
In the book, Orwell wrote of this revisionism, “This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute, the past was brought up to date.”
In much the same way, some people have decided to purge the public square of key aspects of our country’s founding, particularly if those aspects deal with the subject of religion. In their zeal, these crusaders for the separation of church and state are dangerously close to censoring the significance of religion in the formation of the United States.
It’s understandable that an agnostic or an atheist might be offended by seeing a display of the Ten Commandments or a reference such as b.c. It’s also possible that a person of a faith that doesn’t hold the Ten Commandments or Jesus in high regard would also take offense at such public displays. But when did “not being offended” become a right? Maybe the Constitution needs to be revised to include that.
Those who would like to forget that religion played a part in the history of our country and our world should be mindful of the consequences of such a short-term memory. The source for our rights in the Declaration of Independence was God. The movement to end slavery was based on the notion that all of us are “created” equal. Whether they intend to or not, some are forgetting the foundation of our rights.
Sure, it’s often convenient to forget the past. I, for example, would much like to forget that I ever took trigonometry when I was a high-school senior. I didn’t need to take it to graduate, and I sure haven’t needed it in college. But recalling that mistake has kept me from making a similar error in class selection ever since.
Likewise, I’m sure most of us would like to forget that the ever-obnoxious “campus preachers” made their usual visit to USF last week. You’ll have to forgive me; I’m still trying to think of how remembering that will do any of us a bit of good.
In much the same way, remembering the significance of religion in our country and world will help us in the future.
Our past helps us understand where we’ve come from and where we need to go. As the saying goes, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science. firstname.lastname@example.org